Friday, October 31, 2014

Galway Kinnell: "Wait"

in tribute
Galway Kinnell

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

"Wait" by Galway Kinnell, from Mortal Acts, Mortal Words. © Houghton Mifflin, 1980.   

Curator's note: Galway Kinnell, one of our mindfulness poets, died this week from leukemia at the age of 87. Kinnell wrote this poem for one of his students who was contemplating suicide after a failed relationship. After describing the circumstances of its creation during an interview, he said, "I rarely write poems for a specific person. I don’t write them to unload my emotions. I write them because they come to me and they seem to embody something that I didn’t quite know before and I try to perfect them and if somebody asks me why are you doing all that work? I say, for beings." Click here to watch Kinnell read "Wait" for The New Television Workshop.

Art credit: Photograph by Richard Brown.


  1. An exquisitely compassionate poem. Thank you for the back-story.

    1. You're welcome, Thomas.... Wish I had time to provide a lot more back-stories. They're illuminating, to say the least.


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